Interview: Keith Lockhart

By JIM SULLIVAN  |  July 6, 2009

You're offering a celebration of the US when this country is mired in the worst economy since the depression, and engaged in a couple of wars . . .
I know where you're going with this. There's always some set of events, positive or negative, that color the lens that people see the Fourth of July through. In 2002, it was the first time they put the lockdown security and dogs on the Esplanade. People had pretty much gotten over the specific 9/11 shock, but all of sudden they were reminded of how much everything had changed. Now, the economic doldrums are the obvious thing. That said, there's still a little bit of the glow from last November. And that informs the patriotic discussion, as well. I've always thought this should not just be to wrap yourself in the flag and jump off the stage but to be a broader celebration of patriotism — what it means in terms of our life, our cultural heritage, our shared commonality. There are all these reasons to celebrate, while there are always reasons to wonder what's around the next corner.

Whatever comes, you are "America's orchestra."
Yeah, this is the place that is most important for maintaining that status, like us playing at the Super Bowl — being the orchestra of American and Boston celebrations.

Best and worst guest singers?
I can't say the worst one.

If I said David Lee Roth?
David Lee Roth was an interesting choice, and one presented to us by our partners at CBS.

I liked Don McLean a lot. I liked Steven Tyler and Joe Perry because it was such a cool Boston thing.

Cyndi Lauper ruled too, especially when she played what I consider America's anthem, "Money Changes Everything."
I turned around and she was crawling on one of the speaker columns. Her whole style is based on unpredictability: what's the bad girl gonna do next? It certainly made the camera chase her all over the place. She was up on the podium, and there's a great picture of her taken with me leaning backward over her shoulder. The Pops grew a little.

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